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10 Books on My Summer Reading List


summer reading 2

Now that Memorial Day has come and gone, I feel even more like starting to think about summer reading. For me, summer reading means sitting outside, often with an adult beverage of some kind, with books where the pages turn easily and quickly. My limited patience for reading slow books all but disappears when the weather gets nice.

I was going to skip writing up a summer reading list, but then Heather (Capricious Reader) wrote a thing that is basically me exactly:

Is it just me, or is it fun making lists you know you PROBABLY won’t stick to? I do this all the time, I love doing this, and I hardly ever do what I intended. At least in the last 10 years of blogging I’ve learned to not feel guilty about it. Because who the heck has time for that? Ain’t nobody got time for that!

Substitute in “seven years” for “10 years” and you’ve got me exactly. So in the spirit of making reading lists and then completely ignoring them, here are some of the books I’m hoping to read this summer:

  • Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen — My sister loves Sarah Dessen and said this book, Dessen’s newest, might be her favorite. I’m game to give it a try.
  • My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante — I can’t remember how I heard about this one, but I bought it as a book in translation to read and am excited about it because it has frenemies (or not, depending on what you think of that word).
  • The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison — Some of the folks at Book Riot are doing a Toni Morrison reading group in June, so I’ve got this queued up.
  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen — I’ve been planning to read this one for at least two years. I will get to it this summer! Unless I don’t… that’s ok too.
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee — All the buzz about Harper Lee’s “new” novel coming out in July has me itching to revisit this one.
  • The Fair Fight by Anna Freeman — Victorian lady boxers! Yep, that’s perfect for the summer.
  • H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald — I’ve heard nothing but great things about this memoir about death and falconry. It might be too heavy for summer, we’ll see.
  • This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett — I’ve meant to read this essay collection forever. Essays can be nice on warm, lazy afternoons.
  • Princes at War by Deborah Cadbury — This is one I picked out to read ahead of my trip to London this fall, a look at World War II through the story of George V’s sons.
  • How to Bake Pi by Eugenia Cheng — The subtitle of this one says it all: “An edible exploration of the mathematics of mathematics.”

So there you have it, 10 books that I’m hoping I’ll make the time to read this summer. But if I don’t, that’s ok too — I anticipate a wonderful summer anyway. What books are you hoping to read this summer?


Seven of My Favorite Things About Being a Reader

Even when life gets stressful, I’m always grateful that I am a reader. Being a reader is a part of my identity, something that I do because it’s a hobby and because I don’t feel like myself when I haven’t been reading. That got me thinking about some of my favorite things about being a reader:

1. When a book you’ve been waiting for finally arrives for pickup at the library.

2. When someone asks you for a book recommendation.

3. When you finally find something great to read after being in a reading slump.

4. When you’re reading a book that’s so good you can’t wait to find out what happens next.

5. When the final book in a trilogy or long series comes out.

6. When the fate of a fictional character makes you messy cry.

7. When you stay up way too late finishing a great story and have a reading hangover the next day.

What are your favorite things about being a reader?


currently may 24 2015.jpg

Time and Place | About 8:30 a.m. on my couch in the living room.

Eating and Drinking | Our tea stash has gotten a bit out of control, so I’m trying to make an effort to “drink down” the stuff we’ve had longest. My best rediscover is a cocoa chai from Good Earth. It smells amazing.

Reading | My brain was pretty well shot this week, so I mostly just read comic books — Nimona by Noelle Stevenson, She-Hulk, Vol. 1: Law and Disorder and She-Hulk, Vol. 2: Disorderly Conduct. I liked this run of She-Hulk, although I didn’t love the art in a couple issues and found some others hard to navigate — I wasn’t sure which panel to go to next. It was strange. Nimona, a subversive, funny fantasy story was a total delight — highly recommended. When I did finally find the mental space to settle in with a book, I chose A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson, which I thought was great. I can’t wait to read some of her backlist later this summer. Late last night I picked up Thank You for Your Service by David Finkel which I can already tell is going to be important and sad.

Watching | Now that the prime-time television season is over, I’m planning to be watching a lot less. The boyfriend and I are still into Orphan Black, but I’m getting less and less enamored with Game of Thrones.

Listening | I made the mistake of listening to an Andy Grammer playlist my sister put together and now I cannot get the lyrics of “Honey, I’m Good” out of my head. I love it and I hate it.

Decluttering | After I got home from the gym yesterday, I got hit hard with a spring cleaning bug… better late than never I suppose. I didn’t go full on Marie Kondo, but did manage to clear out some unneeded clothes, office supplies and toiletries. I still need to do a major book clearing and tackle the closet in my office, but it’s progress.

Blogging | Things on the blog were very quiet this week. In addition to our basement flooding problem, I had a busy week at work and some other stressful background noise. I’m hoping to use this long weekend to get ahead on some posts to keep things on track this summer.

Promoting | I’m often skeptical about age or gender-related book lists, but I was impressed with this post about 21 books from the last five years every woman should read. It’s diverse in lots of different ways, and has a bunch of books I’ve heard great things about. So far, I’ve read 11 of 21 on the list.

Hating | I had to deal with a few jerks this week. I hate that I always want to get the last word because, as I was reminded this week, that never works.

Loving | While I’m a little sad not to be at my parents’ cabin this weekend, having three days at home with nothing going on is kind of great.

Avoiding | I’m waaaay behind on blog comments. I am going to get caught up today!

Anticipating | I think the sun is going to come out for a bit this afternoon, which means sitting outside with a book. Happy day!

Happy Sunday, everyone! What are you reading today?


Currently | The One With All the Rain

Briefly | I was going to get this post up yesterday afternoon, once the boyfriend and I got back from a quick trip to the Twin Cities. But we arrived home to standing water in our basement followed shortly by a wind advisory and a power outage. It was not the most relaxing way to end the weekend.

Reading | My reading pace has been pretty sluggish since the Readathon. Over the last couple of weeks I finished The One Summer by Mariko and Jillian Tamaki, My Chinese-America by Allen Gee, and The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan. This week I’m hoping to finish God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson and some nonfiction, maybe Lesser Beasts by Mark Lessig or a new one I just bought, This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things: Mapping the Relationship Between Online Trolling and Mainstream Culture by Whitney Phillips.

Watching | I’m almost midway through watching the entire series of Friends on Netlix. After 4.5 seasons, I have the following thoughts: Ross is the absolutely worst (what a whiny baby), Rachel is bonkers but so funny, and yay, Monica and Chandler.

Listening | The boyfriend and I checked out a random audio book from the library for our drive this weekend, Struck by Genius: How a Brain Injury Made Me a Mathematical Marvel by Jason Padgett and Maureen Seaberg. It’s pretty interesting so far, but I’m not sure when we’ll sit down to actually finish it.

Blogging | This week I celebrated my seventh blogiversary, reviewed an essay collection, and shared my unexpected progress at Book Riot’s Read Harder challenge.

Promoting | I try not to get too excited for television marketing trailers, but wow, does this trailer for Supergirl look totally awesome or what?

Thinking | Margaret Sullivan, Public Editor for The New York Times, wrote a piece about the relationship between book reviewers and the books they’re asked to review, looking at what editors of the Book Review consider to be a conflict of interest. I’m amused at the idea that readers are looking for “neutral reviewers,” but I’m so zonked I can’t quite put my finger on more coherent thoughts.

Hating | Rain. Bring out the sun, please.

Loving | I got a bunch of great recommendations for finishing the Read Harder challenge — thank you! I’m thinking of doing a round up of suggested titles in an upcoming post.

Anticipating | We’re in the early stages of planning a weekend up at my parents’ cabin for mid-June. I am so excited.


Apparently 2015 is My Year to #ReadHarder

Read Harder Bingo Card

Generally, I am terrible at reading challenges. It seems that as soon as I challenge myself to do something, it turns into work and I automatically don’t want to do it anymore. The best way to ensure that I won’t ever read a book is to put it on a reading challenge list.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered that I am actually kicking butt at one challenge this year, Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge.

The goal of the Read Harder Challenge is to complete 24 tasks (i.e. read 24 books) “that represent experiences and places and cultures that might be different from your own. … We like books because they allow us to see the world from a new perspective, and sometimes we all need help to even know which perspectives to try out. That’s what this is – a perspective shift – but one for which you’ll only be accountable to yourself.”

I wasn’t planning to “officially” do this challenge this year, but when I reviewed the list of tasks a few weeks ago I realized I’m well on my way to being able to complete this challenge. The bullets in bold are tasks I’ve completed, while those that are plain text are tasks I still need to finish.

2015 Read Harder Challenge List

  • A book written by someone when they were under the age of 25
  • A book written by someone when they were over the age of 65
  • A collection of short stories Almost Famous Women by Megan Mayhew Bergman
  • A book published by an indie press Leaving Orbit by Margaret Lazarus Dean (Graywolf Press)
  • A book by or about someone that identifies as LGBTQ Smash Cut by Brad Gooch
  • A book by a person whose gender is different from your own Eye on the Struggle by James McGrath Morris
  • A book that takes place in Asia Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan
  • A book by an author from Africa Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • A book that is by or about someone from an indigenous culture
  • A microhistory – The Monopolists by Mary Pilon
  • A YA novel – The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma
  • A sci-fi novel
  • A romance novel
  • A National Book Award, Man Booker Prize or Pulitzer Prize winner from the last decade
  • A book that is a retelling of a classic story
  • An audiobook
  • A collection of poetry
  • A book that someone else has recommended to you
  • A book that was originally published in another language
  • A graphic novel, a graphic memoir or a collection of comics of any kind Alex + Ada by Jonathan Luna and Sarah Vaughn
  • A book that you would consider a guilty pleasure The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen (reread)
  • A book published before 1850
  • A book published this year – Hammer Head by Nina MacLaughlin
  • A self-improvement book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

Twelve tasks finished and it’s not even half way through the year! I’m amazed. And kind of excited, since I feel like maybe I can actually finish this one. I’d love your suggestions for books to fill some of my incomplete categories.